There’s a lot that’s new at the fair

Published 10:00 am Wednesday, June 9, 2010

With about $50,000 worth of new blacktop on the walking paths, updated bathrooms and more handicapped parking, just to name a few improvements, the home of Lawrence County’s annual fair is getting a facelift this year.

It’s all been done in time for this year’s fair July 10 through 17.

Fair board president Freddie Hayes estimates that the fairgrounds have not been improved like this in the past 12 to 15 years.

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“We’re getting a whole lot done,” Hayes said. “This place just needed it.”

The board took in an extra $15,000 in sponsorships that has gone to further the improvements at the site.

This year’s fair is dedicated to the memory of Doug Clark, a past president who served more than 20 years on the board and died in November.

“He dedicated a lot of time to this place,” Hayes said. “He’ll be greatly missed.”

Director Jim Gore said the fair will not be the same without Clark.

“It’s going to be different,” Gore said. “He’s always been a part of the fair. He’ll be missed but we’ve got to go on.”

Many of the improvements that have been made are things that Clark wanted to have done.

A spaghetti dinner held in Clark’s memory brought in $7,500 that will be spent on the 4-H exhibit hall. The building will have new doors and paint.

The board plans to make the Doug Clark Memorial Spaghetti Dinner an annual event.

The fairground’s Payne Building has new metal and new doors. The board also plans to redo the building’s floors.

This year the fairgrounds will have double its previous number of handicapped parking spaces as well as shuttle service for the elderly and handicapped.

“We had had some complaints that we didn’t have enough handicapped parking,” Hayes said.

Besides new handicapped-accessible parking, the fairgrounds will also have 23 more spaces for camping, bringing the total number of camper parking spaces to about 120.

The fairgrounds have new bleachers thanks to the help of the Lawrence County Commission, which donated them, and County Clerk Michael Patterson who provided funds for the bleachers to be transported to the site.

Hayes said the grass on the grounds is looking better this year than it has in the past.

“The grounds has been taken care of this year,” he said. “The groundskeeper and maintenance man have kept it standing tall and that’s something that hasn’t been done before.”

This year new portable showers will replace the old ones.

Besides the improvements to the fair ground itself, the board also plans to improve its transparency by making its financial records public.

“We just want people to know what we’re doing,” Hayes said.

A run-down horse arena on the property has been torn down.

“It was falling down,” Hayes said, adding that the arena was not getting much use and was a safety hazard.

The demolition allowed for more parking at the site.

Additionally, another old building that was used to house a boosters club from Fairland High School has been torn down to make room for concession trailers.

The blacktop driveway at the grounds’ main entrance has also recently been sealed.

While many improvements have been made this year, Hayes said there are plenty more to come.

“It’s just the beginning,” he said. “In the next five years we want to get everything we possibly can updated.

“Hopefully we’ll get a new barn and we’re going to apply for grants to get a new grandstand.”